Workers’ compensation is available in most workplaces in the event of a workplace injury or illness. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault type of insurance, so it shouldn’t matter who was at fault. The employee does not have to prove fault if he or she decides to make a claim.
If the injury is caused by a defective machine, there is the possibility that both workers’ comp. and a separate payment from the manufacturer or supplier of the machine may be possible. It all depends on the exact circumstances.
A workers’ comp. attorney can provide advice and help in negotiating either type of claim.
Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury Compared
Both workers’ compensation and personal injury claims provide compensation after an injury or illness, but there are distinct differences between them.
Workers’ compensation claims can only be filed if the injury or illness happened at work, or when carrying out work business. There is no need to prove that the employer was at fault, as it is covered by a no-fault insurance policy.
Workers’ comp. claims are paid by your employer’s insurance provider after an examination of the paperwork. They are restricted in what is paid out. For example, they only cover known economic damages such as lost earnings and medical treatment.
Personal injury claims cannot be made against the employer apart from exceptional circumstances, e.g. if the employer’s insurer denies the claim and an appeal is also rejected. It's an at-fault type of claim, so depends on proof that your injury or illness was due to negligence.
Compensation is typically higher, as non-economic damages such as ‘pain and suffering’ are included.
What to Do If Injured By a Machine Malfunction At Work
If you have been injured at work for any reason, you should be entitled to claim workers’ compensation regardless of the type of injury.
If you have been injured because of a defect in a machine, then you may also be able to sue the manufacturer or someone else down the chain of delivery, like a recognized company maintenance agent.
The basic distinction between suing the manufacturer and your employer is that the injury has happened at work, but a third party is involved. The normal restriction on being able to sue your own employer is avoided because the injury was due to someone else other than your employer.
The claim against the manufacturer would be pursued through the civil court as a personal injury claim. Your workers’ compensation attorney can advise you of your legal options.
How an Attorney Can Help You if You Decide to Sue
Most workers’ compensation attorneys can also deal with personal injury claims as well or, at the very least, suggest a suitable attorney who can help you with your claim.
The burden of proof is typically a lot higher for personal injury claims than workers’ compensation claims as it is necessary to prove that the injury was caused by a defective or faulty machine.
Note that if your injury was caused by a lack of training to use the machine, then this would be insufficient to sue the machine manufacturer. It would be covered solely by a workers’ comp. claim.